The Tale Of Three Forest Giants

Once upon a time, in a magical land called Dayton, there lived three forest giants. Bibbi, Bodil and Bo were made of reclaimed wood by a man with the soul of a poet and the profession of an artist.

On Friday, an adventurer named Brandi, from a land not far away, went on a quest to find them all.

You’ll find these three giants at Aullwood Audubon north of Dayton. The truth is Aullwood is a spectacular place to visit even without the artwork. Woods, prairies, streams and meadows provide amazing habitat for all sorts of creatures. Trails meander here and there, exploring nooks and crannies, reaching into places that resemble a storybook picture.

The artist behind the forest giants is the world’s leading recycle artist. Thomas Dambo is a native of Denmark who uses locally sourced materials to create his sculptures. You can read more about him here.

If this story sounds familiar, that’s because I told you last year about visiting another location that is correct to hosting Dambo pieces. You can read about that here.

It’s a beautiful walk to reach all three sculptures and it’s not strenuous. I believe it’s about a three mile loop unless you’re like me and wander off a good bit. I regretted not packing a lunch and having a picnic somewhere. I’ll do that next time.

If you go, take note there’s also a nature center and an educational farm where you can meet some animals and explore.

Chance Encounter With Barry Gunderson

A recent trip to the Mount Vernon area led me to go looking for some old train paraphernalia in Gambier. As I turned into the park where the trains were located, I noticed a large sculpture at the side of the road.

It was so striking that I made a mental note to pull over on the way out.

I will be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t know what it was or what it meant but I found it striking and wanted to know more. So I pulled over on the way out and went bounding up to the sculpture just as a man stepped into view.

He had a hoe and wore a straw hat to protect against the sun. He smiled and waved and asked “what do you think?”

I called it extraordinary and he beamed.

“I’m so glad you used that word. Extraordinary. I’m not just the gardener, I’m the artist,” he said.

And thus began a long chat with artist Barry Gunderson.

The piece is called “Understorms.”

It’s painted aluminum to represent clouds, rain and butterflies. It was commissioned for the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus thanks to the State of Ohio, Percent For Art Program. It remained there from 1992-2008 when it was removed from that site and relocated to its current location.

Gunderson lives there in Gambier and has taught sculpture at Kenyon College since 1974. It was dumb luck or good fortune perhaps that he was there doing some work that day. He takes care of the weeding and the upkeep around his sculpture. It’s clear he takes great pride in his work and meeting him was a highlight of my day.

It reminded me of something I have been missing this last year. Some of the best travel memories I have are of interactions like this one. I didn’t have an appointment, I just had a chance encounter that was enriching and fascinating.

This is one of the reasons we adventure!

If you’re in the Gambier area, be sure to swing by 302 Duff Street and see this unusual piece of art!! While you’re there, go see the train caboose and locomotive too!